Veteran Entrepreneur: Alfredo Lugo

Written by: Brady Drake

Photo by Hilary Ehlen

The Jolly Jalapeno (April 2019)

We make and sell salsa in the flavors of mild, medium and spicy with aspirations to grow in other flavors and markets. We are looking enter the jam and jelly markets in the future. We also do special orders with a five jar minimum commitment. Alfredo Lugo

Branch: I am currently a veteran serving in the U.S. Air Force

Years Served: 13

First Job After Service: Currently active duty

Did you use military benefits used when starting The Jolly Jalapeno? 
Yes, I utilized the Veteran Business Outreach Center.

Military skill most used in business: Being able to draw on my education. There are many different ways for education to be measured, not just in books, but experiences that can be utilized when troubleshooting and trying to mitigate any emotional response while under duress to find an appropriate course of action.

What changed that made you want to start a business?In 2016 we found out my wife had celiac disease and with that there are several dietary changes that should happen to help ensure the best life can be lived. We started the business to have a salsa that is gluten-free and can be enjoyed at home or anywhere we go. Instead of adding other ingredients to our normal household menu we can add different flavors of salsa to our breakfast, lunch or dinner preferences.

What words of encouragement do you have for fellow veteran entrepreneurs?
Keep giving your best effort, because if it doesn’t work out there is still a lesson to be learned and experience to be gained.

Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process?
We have been fortunate in dealing with our local community and fostering relationships with others. It is a different mindset, but the ability to have a common goal helps. The goal we worked with is strengthening our community.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.